The COVID-19 pandemic brought many changes to the workplace, from a shift to remote working to an increased need for empathy in the workplace. As these new employee trends continue to grow and shift, a focus on great leadership and employee engagement makes or breaks a company’s ability to thrive in these changing times.
New Employee Trends
As employers return to the “new normal,” their needs may be different than they were pre-pandemic. They may crave changes like:
- An improved work-life balance
- A more empathetic workplace
- More flexibility
- Non-monetary motivators, like increased recognition
- An emphasis on employee appreciation
- Greater opportunities for advancement and learning
After a stressful period of working from home, caring for family members affected by the pandemic, and balancing their work and personal lives, employees want to work for someone who respects their needs, offer solutions, and gives them the recognition and opportunities they desire. As leaders, managers, and employees navigate this old territory with new recognition of how things could be different, the need for coaching has increased.
Why Employees Leave
When employees feel like their employment situation is not providing what they need, they might consider resigning or seeking a new job. While factors like poor management or unhappiness with company culture might play a role, the shifting trends of the pandemic have also increased feelings of unhappiness and stagnation among employees. Of the professionals included in a survey, 38% reported feeling that their career had stalled during the COVID-19 pandemic. For employees between the ages of 18 and 24, this number was even higher, with 66% reporting dissatisfaction in their current position.
Career stagnation is one of the biggest factors in employee unhappiness, as many feel that pandemic-related changes hindered their ability to learn new skills or find ways to advance to a better-paying position within their workplace. For others, the pandemic gave them an opportunity to see what they value in a workplace, whether it’s a positive work-life balance or a boss who is willing to be flexible with hours. If they are not feeling valued or respected, they might start looking for a new employment. Those bosses who think the return to the workplace is a return to “the what was” could be in for a rude awakening when many of their employees refuse to return and those who do return leave soon thereafter looking for more integration and opportunity.
Engaging and Retaining Employees
To make sure employees stay engaged and happy, post-pandemic and beyond, strong, flexible leadership is key. Bosses, supervisors, and others in leadership positions should consider ways to improve in areas like:
- Communication and feedback
- Employee recognition and compensation
- Training, development, and opportunities for growth
- Reasonable accommodations, like increased flexibility with hours
For example, employees returning to the in-person workplace might want an opportunity to learn new job-related skills after a period of stagnation while working remotely. Leadership should recognize this and work to find a solution to help the employee feel valued, so that they do not leave to seek work elsewhere. Empathetic leadership is also more critical than ever, as returning to work might be stressful and complex for many employees, like those with children attending school from home or with inadequate daycare possibilities due to post-pandemic shortages.
Compassion, flexibility, and growth are at the core of current employee trends, and workplace leaders who want to support, engage, and retain their top employees should stay aware of shifting post-pandemic trends and work to make sure they’re providing their employees with what they need to thrive.
See what coaching can do to improve both leadership and employee engagement as we move into a “new” normal which has changed expectations for both employees and leaders.